Cellular enrichment with polyunsaturated fatty acids induces an oxidative stress and activates the transcription factors AP1 and NFkappaB

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Nov;265(1):116-22. doi: 10.1006/bbrc.1999.1644.


A 48-h incubation of cultured human fibroblasts with 5 x 10(-5) M oleic acid or polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) from the (n-6) (linoleic, gamma-linolenic and arachidonic acids) or (n-3) (alpha-linolenic and eicosapentaenoic acids) series resulted in an enrichment of the cells with the introduced fatty acid. Cell enrichment with PUFA initiated a rise in the intracellular level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and lipid peroxidation products (thiobarbituric reactive substances TBARS). Simultaneously, cell enrichment with all the studied PUFA induced an increase in AP1 and NFkappaB binding activity measured by electrophoretic mobility shift assay, whereas no significant effect was observed with the monounsaturated oleic acid. Furthermore, the antioxidants vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and N-acetyl cysteine prevented both the arachidonic acid-induced increase in intracellular ROS and TBARS, and the activation of AP1 and NFkappaB. These results indicate that the accumulation of PUFA from (n-6) and (n-3) series elicited an intracellular oxidative stress, resulting in the activation of oxidative stress-responsive transcription factors such as AP1 and NFkappaB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism
  • Cell Line
  • Culture Media
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Oleic Acid / pharmacology
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Transcription Factor AP-1 / metabolism*
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*


  • Culture Media
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • NF-kappa B
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Transcription Factor AP-1
  • Vitamin E
  • Arachidonic Acid
  • Oleic Acid